What is a Puppy Mill?
Puppy mills are dog breeding facilities that put profits ahead of the welfare of dogs. They don’t care about filth, disease, socialization, overcrowding. They don’t care about inbreeding or genetic defects. They don’t care about who adopts the puppies or about wearing out the breeding moms. They just care about making money. It’s a sad truth, but it’s the truth.
View the reality of puppy mill conditions at http://www.prisonersofgreed.org/. (Warning: this site has graphic photos and a video that some people may find disturbing.)
What does this have to do with buying online?
Sadly, the vast majority of puppies purchased online come from puppy mills with terrible conditions. Documented abuse at puppy mills includes forced over-breeding, inbreeding, disease, overcrowding, filth and hunger. Puppies purchased from puppy mills frequently suffer from severe illness and behavioral problems. Learn more about the psychological damage suffered by puppy mill dogs at http://yourlife.usatoday.com/parenting-family/pets/dogs/story/2011-10-11/Puppy-mills-leave-lasting-emotional-scars-study-finds/50722874/1
And conditions only get worse for the moms, who are forced to breed over and over again with little, if any, veterinary care. Once they can no longer reproduce, they are usually killed. Often, this is at the young age of four years old.
Don’t be fooled by websites. If you can’t visit the puppy first, you may very well be getting one from a puppy mill. There are lots of great dogs out there. Know where yours is coming from.
What’s the best way to prevent getting a puppy mill dog?
The best way to stop the cycle of cruelty in puppy mills is to adopt from a local shelter instead. View our available dogs here.
Or you can see our list of rescues in the Bay Area.
Click here to find a shelter near you.
And if you choose to purchase one instead, make sure it is coming from a reputable breeder.
How can I tell if a dog online comes from a puppy mill or a reputable breeder?
Sometimes it can be pretty hard to determine whether you’re getting a puppy mill dog, which is why we always recommend adopting from a shelter or rescue instead. That being said, here are some sure-fire puppy mill signs:
- No purchase criteria: Reputable breeders may do an extensive interview with potential applicants and may only let people that have been recommended by prior buyers have an opportunity to get a dog from their litter. They are very choosy about selecting the right families for their puppies. Puppy mills don't care who you are as long as you don't ask too many questions and have cash or credit card available.
- Advertising: Reputable breeders generally don't need to advertise. They find their adopting families by referrals. Puppy mills place lots of ads online, often times under the guise of being reputable. Some online postings will go so far as to use the term “adopt” instead of buy.
- Reluctance for an inspection: Reputable breeders will gladly let you meet the parents of the dog, see where the puppies were born and how they’ve been treated since birth. Puppy mills generally will not let you see any of the living conditions.
For more information on responsible breeders, see our position statement.
What can I do to show others that adopting is the way to go?
The SPCA does not encourage criticizing the purchase of purebred dogs. Making people feel guilty for their decision doesn’t help the cause. The best thing to do is to inform others of some of the facts. Here are just a few:
- Many people are fooled by the sophisticated advertising techniques of online purebred “breeders” who are in fact puppy mill owners.
- Most people know that puppy mill puppies are sold in pet stores, but didn’t know they are also sold online.
- As targeted online advertising from these sellers becomes more sophisticated and pet stores continue to go out of business, online puppy sales will continue to increase.
- It is estimated that up to 45% of all puppies are acquired online – and virtually all of these dogs are from puppy mills.
- About 1 million breeding female dogs are confined in puppy mills throughout the country.
- About 4 million dogs are bred each year, and about 4 million cats and dogs are euthanized. So for each dog bought from a puppy mill, that’s one less dog saved from euthanasia.
- Approximately 25% of dogs in shelters are purebreds, so purchasing a dog is not the only way to get a purebred dog.
I live in San Francisco, one of the most socially conscious cities in the country. Are puppy mills really a problem here?
Despite its commitment to animal rights, San Francisco is not immune from supporting puppy mills. In a recent SF SPCA survey of 426 dog owners in the city, online purchase ranked first as the way to buy a puppy. The survey indicated that about 30 percent of puppies purchased in San Francisco are from puppy mills. Fifty one percent of those who purchased dogs online would not knowingly purchase from a puppy mill, yet 19 percent don’t know about puppy mills.
You can read the entire survey here.
How can I help put an end to puppy mills?
I have more questions about puppy mills.